Rodgers criticizes Balotelli over swapping shirts with Real's Pepe

Rodgers criticizes Balotelli over swapping shirts with Real's Pepe

Published Oct. 22, 2014 6:54 p.m. ET

LIVERPOOL, England --

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has criticized Mario Balotelli for swapping shirts with an opponent at halftime of a Champions League match against Real Madrid.

Balotelli exchanged shirts with Madrid defender Pepe as they approached the tunnel on the way to the dressing rooms, moments after the halftime whistle.

Rodgers says ''it's not something I stand for. If you want to do that, for me you do that at the end of the game.''


Rodgers says ''it's something I'll deal with'' on Thursday.

Balotelli did not reappear for the second half, although Rodgers said that was ''purely tactical'' and was unaware of Balotelli swapping shirts until after the match.

"His substitution was just tactical," noted Rodgers. "I felt we needed a bit more intensity and I thought Adam Lallana came on and did very well."

Rodgers added he could have asked for no more from his side after seeing them taken apart by Real Madrid. After making a bright start Liverpool were undone by a devastating 18-minute spell as Real Madrid took the game away from with three goals in the opening half at Anfield.

Cristiano Ronaldo set Real on their way with a stunning opener on 21 minutes before two goals from Karim Benzema after some suspect Liverpool defending put the holders in control by the interval. Rodgers admitted the first goal was the key point in the game, but was left to rue defensive mistakes for Benzema's two goals.

"I thought we made an excellent start for the first 20 minutes but after they got that first goal, they showed their quality," Rodgers told Sky Sports. "In the second half we were playing for pride, the player kept going, they didn't stop - they were playing against a top-quality team. 

"We defended poorly on one or two of the goals but I can't ask for any more - we probably needed to get a goal in that opening period.  You can see Real's quality. Speed, technique; you can see why they are champions. The second and third goals are from set-pieces again, it's an issue for us and we have to be better than that

"We'll look at it and learn but we were punished by a top-class side."

Information from's newswire services contributed to this report.